Your First Kink Party: What to Expect

I’ve been going to kink parties (also known as play parties) for well over a decade and have learned a few things in my time. I’ve also organised or been a member of the crew for some parties. Whenever I’m crewing, I get emails from nervous attendees who are coming to a kink party for the first time. They want to know the rules, what to expect, and how to behave.

And I completely understand this. Being in a new type of space, in a community with its own norms and history, can be daunting. So that’s why I thought I’d put together a quick guide to what you need to know before you go to your first kink party.

You Will See All Kinds of People

Kinksters are a diverse bunch. You’ll meet people of different genders, ages, sexualities, races, body types, and abilities.

We don’t all look like supermodels (or like the characters in that scene in Eyes Wide Shut) and a reputable event will never ask you to provide pictures beforehand or accept/reject you based on your looks or any demographic factors. (The one exception here is that some events limit the numbers of single men who can attend each time, but this is more common in the swing lifestyle than in kink.)

So relax: whoever you are, you’ll fit in and be welcome. Be kind, friendly, and inclusive to everyone you meet, and you can’t go far wrong.

You Will See All Kinds of Play

Different BDSM parties have different rules about what is allowed. If in doubt, you should always ask. Some events allow genital nudity and sexual contact, others don’t (this is often a venue restriction or licensing issue.) Some allow physically or psychologically edgy play such as needle play, fire play, or consensual non-consent, while others do not. You might see activities such as rope bondage, impact play, sensation play, Dominant/submissive dynamics, service, and so on.

If you are attending an event for a specific dynamic (for example, Dominant women and submissive men) then playing in a different dynamic may not be appropriate for that event. In general, though, you should expect to see people playing in a range of different configurations.

If you’re not comfortable seeing a particular type of play, it is your responsibility to remove yourself from the space where it is happening. It’s always okay to quietly and respectfully leave a space. It’s never okay to make derogatory comments or kink-shame others.

You Don’t Have to Do Anything You Don’t Want To

Whether you attend alone, with friends, or with a partner or partners, there is never any obligation to play at a kink party. Good parties do not place any expectations on attendees about the kinds of activities they get up to. If you want to just sit and watch scenes from a respectful distance, that’s fine. If you want to chat to people in the bar, chill out in the hot tub, or dance the night away on the dancefloor, that’s great too! And if you do want to play, it’s totally up to you whether you approach other attendees for possible scenes (or accept any invitations that come your way) or just play with the person/people you came with.

You might be asked to play, or to participate in other activities (such as being touched, watching a scene, receiving a service, having a drink, or playing a game.) It’s always okay to say “no thank you” and, if anyone pressures you, speak to a Dungeon Monitor (DM), other member of staff, or the organiser. Reputable play parties have a zero tolerance policy to any kind of boundary pushing or harrassment.

You Might Not Get to Do Everything You Want to Do

Conversely, you may go into a kink party with a specific idea of how you want it to go, and you might not get to do everything you want to do.

Paying for entry to a party does not guarantee you play, or a specific kind of play. If you’ve attended with a partner, you can make plans together but these might need to change on the fly for any number of reasons. And if you’re attending alone, you might meet someone to play with… or you might not. I’ve been on the kink scene for 14 years and I don’t play at every event I attend. This is incredibly normal.

It’s important to go in with realistic expectations. Being too rigid in your hopes for the night is a recipe for disappointment.

Some Basic Etiquette Will Go Far

As I’ve already said, each kink event has its own rules, quirks, and norms. Always ask about specific rules for the party you’re attending. However, there are some consistent points of community etiquette that you should learn and observe at any event you go to. These include:

  • Never touch a person or their equipment without permission.
  • No means no, but anything other than a clear and unambiguous “yes” ALSO means no.
  • Do not assume a dynamic where none exists (for example, by giving orders to a submissive or using honorifis for a Dominant without clear negotiation and consent.) Treat everyone as an equal and with respect, regardless of role.
  • Never interrupt a scene in progress. A scene includes set-up and aftercare. If you see something that worries you from a safety or consent perspective, speak to a DM or the organiser. Always be aware that, even if something looks scary, there is likely a lot of background context that you cannot see.
  • If you’re watching scenes in progress, keep a respectful distance and be quiet. If you want to chat, move to the social space. Staying out of the way is also for your safety – no-one wants to take the backswing of a flogger to the face.
  • Do not take any photographs or recordings without permission. Many events will insist that you leave your phone and any other devices in your locker or car. This is for everyone’s privacy and safety.
  • Embrace the philosophy of YKINMKBYKIOK: “Your kink is not my kink, but your kink is okay.”

Soak Up Opportunities to Learn

Some kink parties take place as part of a kinky conference or other educational event. Others offer newbie orientations, workshops, or talks on specific aspects of kink during the course of the night. If any of these opportunities exist, make the most of them. Hearing experts talk about what they do best is one of the most effective ways to learn and grow as a kinkster.

You can also learn from events in a more informal manner. For example, as you get chatting to people in the bar you’ll have a chance to ask more experienced players about their experiences. And if you see someone doing an activity or playing with a toy that looks interesting? Ask them about it! (Wait until they’ve finished their scene and any takedown and aftercare, of course.)

Kinksters, by and large, are nerds. We are geeky and passionate about the things we do. If you politely and respectfully approach someone to ask them about a particular activity or implement, most will be only too happy to talk to you about it.

Don’t forget to thank them for sharing their time and expertise… or offer to buy them a drink to say thanks!

It’s Best Not to Make Assumptions

If kink is one thing, it is endlessly surprising. As a community, we pride ourselves on being diverse and open-minded. Even so, we’re still humans living in the world, so sometimes unchecked assumptions can creep in. Just this weekend, I was at an event with a male-presenting friend. People assumed not only that we were a couple but that I was his submissive, based on nothing but our outward appearances. Conversely, I’ve attended events with girlfriends in the past and consistently been read as “just friends.”

In general, try to avoid making assumptions about people’s relationships, sexuality, kink roles, or interests based on how they look. There are more things in heaven, earth, and kink than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

This post was sponsored by KinkFest, the UK’s premier educational kinky conference which is taking place in Birmingham this September. All writing and views are, as always, my own. You can learn more about KinkFest and get tickets here.

3 thoughts on “Your First Kink Party: What to Expect

  1. Do I need someone to vouch me to a Kink party? Since I don’t have any experience of attending this kind of party and also I am new to a website(Fetlife.com) and join some Get group.

    1. Hi! It depends on the party. Some require you to be vouched for, others you can just buy a ticket and turn up. If you’re not sure, it’s always best to message the organisers and ask.

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